Ghost Stories – That First Sentence

I am in the process of editing my ghost novel and was in need of some inspiration.  That very first line is particularly important as it sets the scene and mood of the entire story.

Here are some of my favourites;

* This House is Haunted by John Boyne (Book I am currently reading) – ‘I blame Charles Dickens for the death of my father.’

(Perhaps the most interesting start I have read in a while)

* Hell House by Richard Matheson‘It had been raining since five o’clock that morning.’

* The Ghost Writer by John Harwood ‘I first saw the photograph on a hot January afternoon in my mother’s bedroom.’

* The Séance by John Harwood – ‘If my sister Alma had lived, I should never have begun the séances.’

* The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – ‘No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.’

* The Turning by Francine Prose – ‘Dear Sophie, I’m afraid this is going to sound crazy.’

* Susan Hill

– The Man in the Picture: ‘The story was told to me by my old tutor, Theo Parmitter, as we sat beside the fire in his college rooms one bitterly cold January night.’

– Dolly: ‘An autumn night and the fens stretch for miles, open and still.’

The Small Hand: ‘It was a little before nine o’clock, the sun was setting into a bank of smoky violet cloud and I had lost my way.’

The Woman in Black: ‘It was nine thirty on Christmas Eve.’

* Charles Dickens

– A Christmas Carol: ‘Marley was dead, to begin with.’

The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain: ‘Everybody said so.’

English: Frontispiece of "The Haunted Man...

English: Frontispiece of “The Haunted Man” by Charles Dickens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Last Lines

In a previous blog entry I went through my book collection to find opening sentences that drew me in immediately.

I thought it would be interesting to find some ending sentences that were equally as captivating and left the reader either satisfied, longing for more or thought provoking.

Here is what I found;

* ‘I wish you all a long and happy life.’ – The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

* ‘He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.’ – To Kill a Mocking-Bird by Harper Lee

* ‘The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.’ – Animal Farm by George Orwell

* ‘I had only two things on my mind; Paul Newman and a ride home…’ – The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

* ‘They asked for my story.  I have told it.  Enough.’  – The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

* ‘As if I expected to see, rather like hearts, a lost pair of kites hurrying towards heaven.’ – Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

* ‘It didn’t matter in the end how old they had been, or that they were girls, but only that we had loved them, and that they hadn’t heard us calling, still do not hear us, up here in the tree house, with our thinning hair and soft bellies, calling them out of those rooms where they went to be alone for all time, alone in suicide, which is deeper than death, and where we will never find the pieces to put them back together.’ – The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Virgin Suicides

The Virgin Suicides (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

10 of my Favourite Books

Cover of "The Lovely Bones"

Cover of The Lovely Bones

I love so many different books so a top 10 was difficult to compile.  These are books that I have read over and over again and stay with me long after they are closed.  This top 10 does not include horror or children’s fiction.

Here they are in no particular order;

1) The Lovely BonesAlice Sebold

2) Little WomenLouisa May Alcott

3) AtonementIan McEwan

4) The Book ThiefMarkus Zusak

5) The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton

6) Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

7) I’m the King of the CastleSusan Hill

8) The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova

9) The HobbitJ.R.R. Tolkien

10) The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

Favourite Ghost Stories

photo

For those of you that like to read a ghost story in the middle of the night, all alone and even though you are frightened and want to stop reading you just can’t…this list of recommendations is just for you!

5) Ring by Koji Suzuki – The movie scared me and so did the book.

4) The Ghost Writer by John Harwood – You almost forget that this is a ghost story for the first part of the book and just enjoy the interesting plot but then all of a sudden you are hit with scariness.  Harwood builds the suspense perfectly.  I also recommend his other ghost story The Seance. 

3) The Turn of the Screw by Henry James – A classic, short but creepy tale.  Leaves you thinking about what happened for a while.

2)  Everything’s Eventual by Stephen King – This is my favourite of Stephen King’s short story collaboration.  There are some scary tales in this book.  I particularly liked ‘Autopsy Room 4‘ and ‘1408’.

1) The Woman in Black by Susan Hill – I read this when I was by myself at the edge of a forest in Germany.  I was so scared that I had to finish it off in the day time.  Okay so it may have been the circumstances that made it so terrifying the first time but it still gives me chills each time I read it and Susan Hill is the queen of the ghost story, one of my favourite authors.

2012 – My year of reading

Top 5 reads 2012

I decided to keep a record of how many books I was able to read in 2012.  I managed 33, approximately 2 per month.

My top 5 reads (in no particular order);

* House of Leaves – Mark.Z. Danielewski

* Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

* A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness

* I’m the King of the Castle – Susan Hill

* Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs

In 2013 I aim to beat my record.  There are so many books to read and so little time.  Has anyone else kept a record?

If so how many did you manage in 2012?